Why Does Document Management Matter?

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What is Document Management?

As long as documents have been around, some form of record management has existed. While technology continues to evolve, (floppy discs, CDs and USBs) so does the way we store and manage these documents.

Traditionally, within an information technology framework, document management has been defined as a system or process used to collect, monitor and store electronic documents such as word files, PDFs and digital images of paper-based content.

However, this definition has now shifted to be about more than just the technology or documents, giving more weight to the cultural and organisational mind-shift that needs to take place.

Document management is made up of people, processes and technology with a focus on Communication, Collaboration and Security

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Document Management Considerations

When it comes to document management and defining your requirements, there are several considerations:

Storage location
Organisations need to decide whether storage is going to be on local servers or cloud based, or a combination of both. Ultimately, it’s about finding a technology solution to protect and enhance document storage.

Security and access control 
Who needs access to which documents? Is the access requirement ongoing or temporary? Establishing a guidebook for this is essential for ensuring that important and private documents do not get into the wrong hands.

Version control
How will you track and manage different versions of documents, including drafts? How and when will documents be validated and updated or archived? Version control policy must be easy to understand by employees and supported by the technology solution.

Audit trails
In close relationship to version control are audit trails which can be a valuable tool for organisations to determine which individual employees or teams have been involved with documents at different stages. This could be critical in determining where an error with a document has taken place and ensuring that it does not happen again.

Document lockdown
Checking in and out of a document can be a valuable tool for preserving the integrity of a document’s content and template. For example, this can be used to restrict access to a document and could also be integral in revision control, creating a log of all changes that have been made and by whom. SharePoint is an excellent technology for this.

Records management
Records management is likely to form an important component of an organisation’s document management strategy. Records can be defined as information objects that are more formal in nature (for example, this might include evidence of a transaction or a legal decision) than a typical document.

How different organisations safeguard this critical information will vary. There can often be multiple items within the same record e.g. an insurance claim can include a submission form, witness statements, photographs and receipts. Get to know what records your organisation has.

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